Menswear

Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana may not have been in Italian court earlier this week when the judge handed down a sentence for tax evasion, but they were in London last weekend. The evening before the London menswear shows began, Dolce & Gabbana held a tailoring presentation at one of their Bond Street stores. To all intents and purposes, it was a catwalk show. Here’s what happened. 

So now we are deep in the London menswear , the beginning of a three-week cycle through Milan and Paris, and I thought in honour of the start of the run, I’d share some astonishing facts I was told recently by the Brioni folks about employment and spend.

 

Once upon a time, to most people, “the woman in red” meant a mediocre 1980s comedy starring Gene Wilder and Kelly LeBrock. Not any more. These days, the phrase is shorthand for the protests in Turkey over the past two weeks. That the latter has so overtaken the former is testament to the power of the image in the age of social media. And clothing has a lot to do with that power.

Just as pre-fall appears in stores, pre-spring (aka resort) appears on runways. But how to make sense of a season that spans from November through to May? The answer for a number of designers: skin. Sometimes yours, sometimes an animal’s, sometimes something that looks like an animal’s.

We all know menswear is seen as a Great Luxury Hope, what with the Chinese market being driven by male consumers with money. Hence the Kering acquisition of Brioni; LVMH focusing on Berluti and buying French made-to-measure tailor Arnys to make apparel; Hermes and Coach opening mensonly shops, and so on. Now, however, it seems the on-line folks are also thinking along these lines. Yesterday MenInvest, the slightly cringe-worthy-named Paris-based e-commerce group bought the even odder named upmarket UK site Oki-ni.com, which specialises in “cutting-edge” menswear, for an undisclosed sum.

 

American Vogue may have Michelle Obama as their cover coup, but L’Uomo Vogue, Italian Vogue’s men’s fashion arm, has, on their April issue…Mayor Michael Bloomberg! I kid you not. It’s a little left-field as a choice, no? For both of them (the cover model and the magazine). So what’s the rationale here?

 

It’s Easter, which perhaps explains my recent fixation with the new Pope. After all, for the past week he has been conducting the rites of Holy Week, which will culminate in Sunday’s mass, where thousands will once again throng St Peter’s Square, listening to his words, being led by his example … and checking out his outfits for a sign.

The finalists and honorees of the CFDA awards are out, and it’s a surprising list. Actually, that’s not true: it’s a totally predictable list, but it’s also an instructive one. It both shows how meaningless it is to define an “American” designer in a world where Americans design for foreign houses, and foreigners show in America, and how, despite the fact that the fashion schedule gets ever-more crowded, there still seems an extraordinarily thin layer of internationally recognised talent. Which points up yet another truth: there is a major flaw in the time logic of the awards system itself.
 

Lloyd Blankfein. Getty Images

The new stubbly look of Goldman Sachs’ chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was the subject of much buzz at Davos last week. Sometimes you have to talk about something besides the Eurozone and exciting new tech breakthroughs, and in so doing, it caused endless irritation for the Goldman communications team – it didn’t see why everyone cared so much.

Do they really have to ask? Methinks that is a bit disengenuous. After all, Mr Blankfein’s new look was unveiled at: 1) the most public gathering of his peers all year, and one he was returning to for the first time in five years; and 2) bore a striking resemblance to the facial hair sported by that most considered and controlled of all aesthetic men, Tom Ford – the man who transformed the role of the designer into an executive position, and became a public figure in the process. Take a look at the pictures and tell me what you think. 

Last week was menswear week in London – see Charlie Porter’s review – but in New York, it was womenswear everywhere. On Monday I saw eight “pre-fall” collections. Tuesday I saw another and, on Wednesday, I saw a 10th. What did I see? Well, tailored wool jackets. Mini-skirts. Prints – leopard and cheetah and floral and what Carven’s Guillaume Henry described as “sort of layered posters for Françoise Hardy albums”. Tuxedo dressing. And evening gowns. Lots and lots of evening gowns.

But the latter aren’t for pre-fall – that is, from next June/July until November, when this ridiculously named “season” is stocked in shops. The gowns are for tomorrow.